Duncan Scott: ‘Learning To Swim Is A Critical Life Skill For Children’ Amid Uncertain Future For Leisure Sector


Olympic champion Duncan Scott says “it is critical that children learn to swim,” echoing a survey of Scottish adults at a difficult time for the leisure sector that has seen facilities close amid an uncertain future.

The poll of 1008 adults by JL partners, part of the British Polling Council, found that 93% of respondents agreed that all children should learn to swim with 90% agreeing that learning to swim is an important part of every child’s education.

Scott – who became the first British athlete to win four medals at a single Olympics in Tokyo – said:

“I learned to swim at my local community pool and have been fortunate to go on to sporting success, but as Scottish Water and Scottish Swimming ambassador for learn to swim the most important thing is to get all children learning to swim in Scotland from a safety point of view.”

“As an island nation with thousands of lochs and miles of coastline it is critical that children learn to swim to keep them safer, confident and competent in and around water.”

According to the organisation’s November 2022 report, 95% of Community Leisure Scotland’s member Leisure Trusts at risk with swimming  63% of members in discussions and planning around the impact of facility closures. While this is across all facilities, pools are among those with highest operating costs.

This followed the decision last month by the Government not to designate pools and leisure centres as “energy intensive industries,” meaning they have been excluded from extra financial support amid an energy cost crisis.

The survey, released by Scottish Swimming, added:

“90% of the Scottish public agree that pool closures are bad for communities. In fact the public agreed that pools have a positive role to play in society in a number of areas.

“88% of Scots agree that swimming pools are important for communities.

“Pools and leisure centres often lie at the heart of communities bringing families, clubs and individuals together for fitness, fun and friendship. They are often a daily dose of health and fitness for more than 21,000 club members in Scotland and a lifeline for many who depend on them for social interaction.

“86% of Scots agree that swimming pools are important for health.

“Swimming reaches all ages and abilities from birth upwards. The unique weight-bearing properties of water mean it’s accessible for those with injuries or conditions such as dementia, diabetes and depression, those recovering from trauma or simply as a positive prescription for improved mental and physical health. Swimming saves the NHS around £357 million a year.

“In terms of sporting success, 84% of the Scottish public think swimming pools are important for Scotland’s success in swimming as a sport.

Swimming pools are where home-grown heroes and champions are made. Swimming and diving are both aquatics sports where a full pathway exists in Scotland from grass roots through to performance on the international stage.”

Euan Lowe, CEO of Scottish Swimming commented,

“It’s fantastic to see these levels of public support for swimming pools and children learning to swim. As the governing body for aquatics in Scotland we have long known the safety, community and health benefits of swimming and aquatic sports and we also know how critical it is to keep pools open for these very reasons.”

“The energy crisis is having a devastating effect on the leisure sector and especially pools with spiralling energy costs and urgent financial relief is needed to ensure pools keep their doors open.”

Brian Lironi, Director of Corporate Affairs with Scottish Water, said:

“Learning to swim is a critical life skill for children and adults across Scotland and swimming pools obviously play an essential role in continuing to host lessons that develop and equip youngsters across the country to be safer, confident and competent swimmers – creating Scotland’s “Generation Swim”.

Scottish Swimming joins the home nations across the UK and Community Leisure Scotland in the #SaveOurPools campaign which highlights the positive value of swimming pools and the need for financial relief for the sector during the immediate energy crisis.

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